University of Oulu

Vuosku J, Martz F, Hallikainen V and Rautio P (2022) Changing winter climate and snow conditions induce various transcriptional stress responses in Scots pine seedlings. Front. Plant Sci. 13:1050903. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2022.1050903

Changing winter climate and snow conditions induce various transcriptional stress responses in Scots pine seedlings

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Author: Vuosku, Jaana1,2; Martz, Françoise1; Hallikainen, Ville1;
Organizations: 1Natural Resources Unit, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Rovaniemi, Finland
2Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Frontiers Media, 2022
Publish Date: 2023-06-21


In northern boreal forests the warming winter climate leads to more frequent snowmelt, rain-on-snow events and freeze-thaw cycles. This may be harmful or even lethal for tree seedlings that spend even a half of the year under snow. We conducted a snow cover manipulation experiment in a natural forest to find out how changing snow conditions affect young Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) seedlings. The ice encasement (IE), absence of snow (NoSNOW) and snow compaction (COMP) treatments affected ground level temperature, ground frost and subnivean gas concentrations compared to the ambient snow cover (AMB) and led to the increased physical damage and mortality of seedlings. The expression responses of 28 genes related to circadian clock, aerobic and anaerobic energy metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism and stress protection revealed that seedlings were exposed to different stresses in a complex way depending on the thickness and quality of the snow cover. The IE treatment caused hypoxic stress and probably affected roots which resulted in reduced water uptake in the beginning of the growing season. Without protective snowpack in NoSNOW seedlings suffered from cold and drought stresses. The combination of hypoxic and cold stresses in COMP evoked unique transcriptional responses including oxidative stress. Snow cover manipulation induced changes in the expression of several circadian clock related genes suggested that photoreceptors and the circadian clock system play an essential role in the adaptation of Scots pine seedlings to stresses under different snow conditions. Our findings show that warming winter climate alters snow conditions and consequently causes Scots pine seedlings various abiotic stresses, whose effects extend from overwintering to the following growing season.

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Series: Frontiers in plant science
ISSN: 1664-462X
ISSN-E: 1664-462X
ISSN-L: 1664-462X
Volume: 13
Article number: 1050903
DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2022.1050903
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: The Research was funded by the Academy of Finland (Decision 267092) and Natural Resources Institute Finland.
Copyright information: © 2022 Vuosku, Martz, Hallikainen and Rautio. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.